Genre: Literary / Satire
Date Published: October 2016
Publisher: JAM Publishing
Ruth Askew, a minor celebrity, is spouting some highly incompetent philosophy about the end of virtue. Con Manos, a journalist, is attempting to uncover a political scandal or two. Add some undistinguished members of City Council, an easy listening radio station, a disorganized charity, a prestigious Philadelphia newspaper, and any number of lawyers and other professional criminals. In Worthy Of This Great City the compelling stories of two stubborn individualists intertwine in a brisk, scathing satire that invites you to question everything you think you think about today’s most discussed issues: populism and elitism, the possibility of truth, the reach of profound stupidity, and the limits of personal responsibility in these post-truth, morally uncertain times.
About the Author
If you know my website and Twitter addresses (asmikemiller.com and asmikemiller, respectively), you must realize Mike Miller is only an author name. It’s not a matter of privacy
or secrecy; anybody can find me with minimal effort. It’s about keeping things separate. My writing is about what appears on the page. It’s not about my personal politics or religion or history.
Worthy Of This Great City is a B-game book. I’m ambiguous about this, being interested in money like most people, but I don’t want to compete with a slick professional cover or smooth editing so I’ve stuck to a sort of reasonable, human middle ground. I value those things for what they are, of course, but I see them as artifacts, part of a system of publishing that fought like hell for a week’s worth of shelf space, that fought to catch the eye, not the mind or heart.
As my character Con Manos says: “It’s a revolution, isn’t it?” I say: Why fight on the side of the enemy? Why imitate and thus perpetuate a business model that stifles originality? Just to show you can? Unless, of course, you’re fighting to attract the eye, not the mind or heart.
I’ve played a joke with this novel – my first, incidentally. Played with the idea of narration and who can be speaking after all. It’s all very literary.
Interview with Mike Miller
What inspires your writing?
A lifelong search for the words I need. That’s a combination of enormous need or ambition and an appreciation of language. Words are my power; I’m certain that once I figure out the right ones, juggle the concepts with sufficient expertise, I can master my life. It’s the great quest, the great illusion.
What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
Getting something right. Those breakthroughs when you see where you’ve been going, when you understand what you’re been writing about all along.
What is the toughest part of being a writer?
The waiting for ideas to come together. Waiting to move forward.
If you could not be writer, what would you do/be?
I think I’d be working in fine arts or at least crafts. I love sculpting, painting.
What would the story of your life be entitled?
What is your favorite book of all time?
Franny and Zooey. When I first read it as an adolescent I was astounded that a book could express my private questions and concerns, could consider such matters important in life and in literature. It set me off on a different course, and for that I’m incredibly grateful.
Which character from any book are you most like?
Maybe Alyosha from The Brother Karamozov. I’m hopeful, maybe naïve. I want to believe. I want answers.
What character from all of your books are you most like?
Ruth Askew. I’m impulsive, proud, stumbling clumsily around looking for ideas about God, all that. Like all of us, Ruth is essentially blind, eager to take pride in her gifts but gifted at avoiding responsibility for her actions.
Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?
Lost Horizon. Who wouldn’t want to be young forever?
What is your favorite season?
SUMMER! I’d make an excellent beach bum.
What inspired your book cover?
Well, that’s a story, because I never wanted to put too much emphasis on the externals, only on text. Covers ultimately have to do with brick-and-mortar shelf space. So I used one of my own photographs, one that seemed to capture the mystery and promise of City Hall’s corridors. It’s golden and beautiful and makes for a cover everyone seems to hate, I assume because it isn’t what a cover is supposed to be.
Tell us something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.
I don’t know that it’s amusing funny, more curious, but I stopped doubting myself. I could see from various critiques exactly what the reader did or did not grasp of what is after all a very complex, layered work structured to read easily. It can be appreciated simply as a satire or as philosophy or as a commentary on narration and the novel. I think that’s correct, in a way. It reflects the complexity of every living moment, and the ease with which we necessarily ignore that marvelous complexity. Anyway, somewhere along the way other people’s opinions stopped mattering to me, and as a typically insecure writer I find that remarkable.
Are you working on something new?
Yes. It’s about immigration law, a political asylum case, but I don’t want to get into more detail because almost certainly everything will change. As in Worthy of This Great City, the fact of the narrator is important. And again as in Worthy, places and times sometimes move subtly, with no sharp edges but merely a shift in influence.
Anything you want to say to our readers?
The novel is infinite; it’s a world of unexplored possibilities of both structure and content deserving of constant serious change, not pathetic tricks of cosmetics and inserted media. Text doesn’t need to apologize. But I think we’re entering a new era where major publishing houses produce mainstream, commercial products but also act as distributors, and indie authors are as respected as indie filmmakers.
Connect with Mike Miller
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